The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws…Just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with. – Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (1957)
During a phone conversation last week, someone reminded me that since February 6, 2006, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has changed the life of today’s recruiter in the most fundamental ways. I agreed, but only after considerable thought did I realize that it has done a lot more than change just the life of recruiters. It has also needlessly burdened recruiting/HR organizations in a host of ways.
Three quick examples of this burden are as follows:
- The onerous addition of yet more resources they now must provide in order to attempt to achieve compliance.
- The new struggle to develop and maintain expertise and consistency in dealing with confusing regulatory issues that many still do not really understand (nor wish to; great recruiters want to fill positions, not keep endless nonsensical records).
- Provided another level of angst and distraction generated by the need to comply with an additional government program that will accomplish nothing, as fairness can never be legislated.
If that is not arduous enough, there is now the addition of yet another absurd pressure: a new type of government audit, which is just what corporate America needs as it struggles on the one hand to comply, and on the other hand to be nimble enough to be competitive with other countries. (By the way, when the government chooses the companies to audit, will it be with the same level of “fairness” the OFCCP demands of the recruiting industry?)
Not only do many of the countries with which we compete not have to worry about such absurd regulations and absurd interference, but they probably also fall on the floor laughing when (and if) they ever understand what hoops we have to go through just to hire a new employee. Honestly, a recruiter complying with the OFCCP should get the Purple Heart for making a hire these days. (As an aside, if you think that the recordkeeping is not oppressive, I refer you to www.icims.com; see “Recordkeeping Requirements” on page two.)
The OFCCP is brought to you by the same set of Einsteins who devised the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002 as a reaction to loss of public faith in accounting and reporting practices. I can only say that if you liked that type of interference, you are going to love the OFCCP and the audits that follow from what I suspect will be some of the least recruiting/employment-savvy individuals alive.
Just as Sarbanes-Oxley was created to keep criminals from pillaging the very organizations to which their well-being has been entrusted (many insiders actually think Sarbanes-Oxley does more economic damage than it can ever prevent, but let’s try to deal with one government catastrophe at a time), the OFCCP is designed to create a level playing field and demonstrate that all “Internet candidates” are considered equally for employment opportunities.
I am, of course, loathe to introduce any reality into our government’s policy development, but if you believe that Sarbanes-Oxley is going to keep the criminals from looting, you are frightfully wrong. And, if you think that the OFCCP is going to legislate “fairness,” you are once again frightfully wrong as you need to look more closely at the nature of capitalism and how life in corporate America actually works. (Capitalism promises many things, but fairness and stability are not among them.)
Saving search strings, taking complete notes on conversations with candidates, and being able to defend why you did not choose to interview a candidate who meets minimal qualifications accomplish nothing meaningful. What they do accomplish is endless bureaucracy and absurd process over tangible results, all from a government that makes an organization’s ability to be successful all the more difficult.
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Do you ever wonder about the nature and experience of the architects of this Frankenstein?
- Were they progressive thinkers/futurists of great experience with visionary leadership in the employment/human capital world?
- Did they have a depth of knowledge, experience, and understanding of the problems associated with hiring in a global marketplace, including all of its legal, demographic, and business complexities?
- Did their backgrounds also extend to Internet recruiting and technology utilization, such that they could develop a program that would be realistic in terms of meeting objectives while still being manageable and cost effective?
- Did they have a clue as to how recruiters work and what our job is all about?
- Did they carefully document and monitor the results of the pilot programs and focus groups with recruiting and HR leaders? (Did they even do any pilot programs and focus groups in the first place?)
If you think there are any “yes” answers to any of these questions, you need to rethink your government and how it works, because these are the same “good ole boys” that praised Michael Brown, the director of FEMA, during Hurricane Katrina. (I suspect his last position as Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association made him the logical choice for that job.) Are these the same people who developed the OFCCP?
Please understand that I am not opposed to fairness as it relates to a level playing field and/or the concept of diversity to which it is inexorably linked. Growing up in Brooklyn, I was a fan of diversity long before it became corporate America’s poster boy and the moral equivalent of driving a hybrid and quoting Al Gore.
What I am opposed to is our government’s ongoing need to insert itself into the private business sector with an ill-conceived and poorly thought-out solution. I am even more appalled when they create unspeakable levels of new work and solve nothing. Short of standing next to each person in the hiring process with a gun, no law will make things fair. (In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, it soon becomes clear that “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”)
Not to worry: We will adjust and deal with the burden, the nonsense, and the absurdity. What concerns me is what they will come up with next. I get the feeling they are looking at the recruiting industry closely, very closely. You never wanted to work for the government? Guess what: You already are, and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Enjoy.
By the way, isn’t it time you read Atlas Shrugged? It will rock your thinking.